Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama signed into law Sunday a $9.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package following delays over fiscal cliff bickering, warnings of dwindling federal funds and swirling controversy over millions of dollars for unrelated projects.
The measure passed the House on Friday, 354-67. The Senate approved the measure unanimously and without debate. The new law includes more than $9 billion to help the government pay flood insurance claims.
Congress faced strong pressure to boost the debt-ridden flood insurance program, which is the primary option for that type of coverage for U.S. homeowners and businesses. It has been under severe financial pressure for years from payouts related to big storms like Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
It was the first legislative action of the new Congress, which picked up the Sandy package after the previous session on Tuesday shelved a vote on a much larger assistance plan for storm victims, infuriating New York and New Jersey politicians.
Lawmakers from both houses will weigh in on $51 billion in additional Sandy aid on January 15. But that larger portion will likely face much closer scrutiny in a Congress anticipating more acrimony over spending and debt in coming months.
House leaders initially balked at immediate consideration of a big spending bill just after concluding the excruciating negotiations around the fiscal cliff. House Speaker John Boehner preferred to wait a few days at least before holding a vote on a Sandy bill.
The original storm legislation also included what some Republicans saw as congressional "pork," or money for unrelated pet projects. Budget hawks viewed the extra funding as wasteful in an era of record deficits.
CNN's Halimah Abdullah and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
If all the "small government" GOPers had their way, there would be NO federal emergency relief because it's a hand-out, after all.
Besides, if those hit by Sandy were real exceptional Americans and individuals who took pride in taking care of themselves, they wouldn't be asking for or accepting any aid. It's just encouraging them to be dependent. They should be willing to play the hand that life deals them. And if they had insurance to cover their losses, but the insurance companies went broke because of all the claims? Well, that's just the way the ball bounces.
Ron and Rand Paul, Libertarians and the like believe this is how it should be. I don't see any language in the Constitution or Bill of Rights talking about disaster relief, do you?
This is no time for "pork". Shame on the lawmakers who included it in the bill !!!!!!!! It's time to cut the nonsense and get appropriate monies to the victims of Sandy. The money is there for FEMA aid. It adds nothing new. DO YOUR JOB, CONGRESS !!!!!!!!!
Maybe they could save some money by getting rid of all those flowers in the white house, senate, house. When you are this much in debt, you cut Everything. Even just have 1/2 the number.
He had better get used to signing more of these type of State AID packages.
The next Sandy aid bill will face more challenges, especially from Tea Party Republicans. This will not instill confidence in people that government is ready to help after a disaster.
At least we are spending in USA not on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, nor Pakistan that cheated taking 25 billion dollars kept Bin Laden in side.
I have a problem with statements like " the bill is full of port" have anyone here seen or read that bill? and if there is pork, we all know that is put by congressmen of both parties in order to satisfy their constituents, Therefore i really would like to read the bill and see what it has, in order to be able to make the proper assessment.
We the people need to research more and believe less of what we all hear.
I think it is great they finally got this approved. Its about bloody time.
The GOP held up the aid bill because they didn't like the female name "Sandy" and I bet if the the was "Sam" it would have been granted immediately and for the full amount request.
Take off the clothes of CORPORATE-WELFARE, loophole DEDUCTIONS, DEFENSE-CUTS, OK. As I wrote CONGRESS is the nation's menace and main problem.
a little information for you, it was the senate that added all the pork and congress cut it out. Get the facts straight
did the 1% get out of paying taxes?
67 Congressmen voted against this bill. That's 67 human beings who enjoy the suffering and death of Americans. Let's eliminate these subhumans from our government and from our gene pool.
obama kept his promise that he will help the sandy people an he did
The Sandy Relief Bill needs to be cut at least by 25%. I blame both Republicans and Democrats for not investigating thoroughly into the bill. The Republican GOP was way too concerned over the public perspective in saving their jobs on the next election than actually caring about this nation.
These RED STATES are like a really ugly [guy or girl, take your pick] that his dating "out of their league" but, because of that actually begins to believe they are HOT!
These Congressman from the Tea Party Congressional districts would do well to remember they are not the cute one! BLUE STATES pay more in taxes than they EVER receive so these RED STATES better remember that and stop playing games. Another hurricaine will hit Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana. Another monster tornado will hit Arkansas, Tenneseeor Oaklahoma. When that happens, these psuedo-fiscally restrained Congressmen, will not want the hand that feeds them to be carrying a grudge.
Can the GOP not figure out that they are shooting themselves in the foot on a daily basis? Don't they want to survive as a party?
I bet the 67 nay votes are Tea Party members...
Now that the flood insurance part has past, get the other help to the states like NJ. It didn't take them this long with Katrina. The question is why is taking this long for NJ, NY and others for Sandy? I think it is because the Republicans think that the Northeast is nothing but liberals that don't need any help.
This storm was all Bush's fault.
I wonder how much of the bill was pork – like the included $330M for USPS – and how much of it was actually targeted at those who need help from Sandy ???
thank goodness president obama was re-elected. he does what he can to get help despite a congress that only protects the wealthy. voters will rid congress of the " pork", hope it was worth it for republicans in congress to keep dragging our country down.
Why 11 days delay, there is no real reason only two word are valid for Republicans delay and behaviour Shameful and disgraceful!!
They will unlike Katrina and other southern stae disasters demand spending cuts elsewhere before passing the bill.
This aid will create lots of construction jobs over the next 2 years at least.